What Can Affect Naturalization Eligibility?
The naturalization process, or obtaining lawful permanent resident status in the United States, is often lengthy and requires a lot of work on the applicant's part. With background checks and a formal review and interview process, many risk factors may come to light that the applicant was not previously aware of. Unfortunately, these risks may damage the chances of becoming a citizen or could even be grounds for deportation.
When going through the application process, it's essential to understand these risks and how you or your family members may be affected. Here are some of the most common risks to consider.
One of the biggest dangers in applying for naturalization is committing fraud. Naturalization applicants are required to provide accurate information about themselves, their family, and their history. If you lie on your application or withhold any information, you could be denied citizenship and even deported. It is crucial to be honest when answering questions on your application and to ensure that all of the information you provide is accurate.
Furthermore, two of the most common application mistakes are forgetting to sign documents or leaving out a page. While these acts are not inherently fraudulent, they may signal red flags for an applicant during the process. When submitting your final application for consideration, take extra care to check and ensure that all information is accurate and completed to the fullest.
Another risk factor when applying for naturalization is having a criminal history. If you have been convicted of a crime, it could make it more difficult to become a U.S. citizen. Additionally, there are a few specific violations that may bar you from being able to apply for naturalization altogether. Aggravated felonies like drug and firearms trafficking, crimes of moral turpitude like murder and rape, and controlled substance violations make an applicant inadmissible.
If you do have a criminal record, it is important to consult with an attorney before applying for naturalization to make sure that you are eligible and to understand what, if any, impact your criminal history will have on your application.
Unintentionally Abandoning Your Green Card
Another danger in applying for naturalization is that you may unintentionally abandon your green card. If you leave the United States for more than six months without obtaining a re-entry permit, you could be considered to have abandoned your residency. This could jeopardize your chances of becoming a U.S. citizen and may even result in deportation.
To avoid this, it is important to always carry your green card with you when traveling outside of the United States, keep trips abroad short or otherwise apply for a re-entry permit if you plan to be gone for more than six months.
It's also crucial to maintain and document anything that shows you have ties to the U.S. to avoid your green card from being considered abandoned. Components like maintaining permanent residency and employment in the United States, filing U.S. tax returns, owning or leasing a property, and having family members registered or actively attending a U.S. school can be viable proof that you did not abandon your residency.
Another risk to be aware of when applying for naturalization is that your sponsor may no longer be willing or able to support you financially. If this happens, you could become ineligible for citizenship. It is important to make sure that your sponsor is still willing and able to support you before you apply for naturalization. You should also have a backup plan in case your sponsor is no longer able to help you in this manner.
Another sponsorship issue you might encounter is if your employer is found to have committed fraud during the application process. If this happens, your application could be denied and you could even be deported. This is why it is important to make sure that your employer is legitimate and that they are not committing any fraud during the application process.
Political Membership or Group Associations
Although less frequently occurring, affiliation with certain foreign political parties or groups may be a risk factor when applying for naturalization. For example, if you have ever been a member of or have ties to the Communist Party, you will need to disclose this information on your application and may be required to provide additional documentation. This does not automatically make you ineligible for naturalization, but it is something that will need to be addressed during the application process.
Advocacy for certain groups is also risky for applicants, even if you are not formally a member. If it's found that you have been associated with groups wanting to overthrow the U.S. government or supporting totalitarian regimes or parties, it could result in a denied application.
These are just some of the risks involved in applying for naturalization. While these risks can be serious, there are ways to avoid them and protect yourself during the application process. One of your best chances at ensuring that you aren’t affected by these factors is to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to help you through the process.
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